A 2018 survey from Capital Group found “salary or household income” to be Americans’ top conversational taboo, ahead of “marriage problems, mental illness, drug addiction, race, sex, politics and religion.” Why then does it seem like we are having more conversations about pay than ever before?
$15 Minimum Wage
This may seem like a strange place to start for a white collar recruiting firm, but the activism over the past few years by fast food workers and other minimum wage employees has driven an incredible amount of legislative change. Across the country 44 cities and counties will increase their minimum wage to $15 an hour by the end of the year. Any California employer with 26 or more employees will be paying a minimum of $!5 an hour by the end of 2022. Most of New York State will be phasing-in $15 an hour pay as well.
“The upcoming minimum-wage raises in January 2022 and later in the year are a testament of the power of underpaid workers coming together to demand higher wages,” Yannet Lathrop told newsletter HR Brew. It has also attracted the attention of young activists in their own white-collar careers creating increased conversations about pay. A 2021 report from Beqom found that the push for salary transparency is particularly high among younger workers. “Our report found more than half (58%) of employees would consider switching jobs for more pay transparency, and for Gen-Z, the number jumps to 70%,” Beqom’s founder Tanya Jansen told Inc. magazine.
Payscale and Glassdoor
Along with the media coverage of the $15 minimum wage activism focusing attention on pay, the availability of pay information from websites like Payscale and Glassdoor make conversations about pay easier to have. Job seekers have the ability to search salary averages for very specific career paths at any point in time or over time. The federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics offers current compensation for many job titles as well as a forecast of growth one can expect in that career. This amount and availability of information means pay transparency is assumed, a cultural shift from yesteryear’s avoidance of any conversations about pay.
Illegal to Ask Current Compensation
In a belief that asking current compensation keeps discriminated groups underpaid, even as they pursue new positions, 16 states have completely banned asking job candidates their pay history. Massachusetts was the first in the country to implement the salary history ban in 2018, so the change is new enough that it is hard to assess how much has changed. Four states who ban questions on salary history, Rhode Island, Nevada, Colorado and Connecticut, have also passed laws requiring companies to disclose salary ranges for their open positions. These bans are shifting the culture of salary negotiation putting the candidates in more control than the companies.
Rory Hauser, Smith Hanley Actuarial Recruiting Practice Lead, says, “Candidates who withhold their current salary information are far more likely to get a more attractive market rate offer versus the traditional 10% increase over current base compensation.”
Advantageous Job Market
Of course the best job market in years also puts control in the hands of the candidates. As the WSJ reports plentiful job postings, rising wages and low unemployment make this the perfect time to search for a new job. Networking with former associates, professional associations and recruiters in your area of expertise have the biggest payoff for a successful job search. You can even get a new job without quitting your current company. Use this hot job market, and perhaps some internal turnover, to have a “stay conversation” with your supervisor. The best career management doesn’t have to be an exit interview.
Interested in understanding how your compensation is affected by all these conversations about pay? Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Executive Recruiters at www.smithhanley.com.